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Moonstruck Review


Good
A good romantic comedy should be a balm for the soul. Moonstruck doesn't provide that. It's quaint and amusing and full of good performances. It's the kind of movie you can watch with your grandmother and enjoy. The movie is not without its charms. Too bad it doesn't just whisk you into a world of wonder -- it tries to keep you prisoner.

Moonstruck tells the story of Loretta (Cher, in her Academy Award-winning performance), a thirtysomething Brooklyn widow, who is apparently happy in her humdrum life. She lives with her parents, goes to work, and looks for nothing more. Life becomes too difficult when extremes enter the picture. Her fiancé, Johnny (Danny Aiello), fits her life model to a T, a supremely ordinary man in every way, including romance. Loretta has to practically walk him through his proposal, and she always kisses him first. For Loretta, that's fine. She loved her last husband and that caused her nothing but heartache. "When you love them, they drive you crazy," her mother explains.

Continue reading: Moonstruck Review

Death Wish Review


Very Good
If you were a mugger, would you prey on a guy that looked like Charles Bronson? I guess this wouldn't have worked with Petula Clark in the lead, but Death Wish -- which spawned four sequels and endless knockoffs -- is a real piece of filmed Americana. Bronson plays Paul Kersey, an architect (and conscientious objector during Vietnam!) whose wife is senselessly killed by a mugger. Soon he learns the joy of the .32 handgun and begins shooting up the town whenever he spies a mugging, or -- more lifely -- when he is the victim of an attempted mugging himself. Bronson probably shoots more bullets than he utters lines of dialogues, and the police work in tracking down Kersey is uncannily good. All told this is a compulsively watchable bit of '70s nostalgia, a curious counterpart to Dirty Harry and an icon of New York-brand justice. (Make sure you dig the wallpaper in Kersey's kitchen.)

Little Shop Of Horrors Review


Good
Little Shop of Horrors is a curiously detached musical comedy based on the popular 1980's off-Broadway play about a man-eating plant from outer space. Not exactly a thought provoking subject, although some of the movie works; it's just too bad even more of it does not. I saw the play, and even performed in an amateur version. Throughout the movie, I was singing along with some of the musical numbers, but found myself standing outside of the story. Maybe that's because this is about a man-eating plant from outer space. I hold nothing against movies about man-eating plants from outer space, but this one doesn't know how to handle such.

The movie is a solid adaptation; beyond some alterations at the end after test audiences complained (they should have complained even more), the movie is very similar to the play. Most of the songs remain intact, and the cast is full of energy and zest. The special effects fill an important niche. So why does so much of Little Shop of Horrors feel distant and wearisome?

Continue reading: Little Shop Of Horrors Review

The Front Page Review


Very Good
Billy Wilder's version of the classic play carries a lot of fond memories for former newspapermen like myself, but I don't expect The Front Page to resonate quite so well with the rest of the populace. Lemmon plays it straight as a reporter bent on getting out of the business in order to get married while Matthau's hilariously over-the-top editor does everything in his power to keep him on the payroll during a fantastic jailbreak in 1920s Chicago. It drags in the middle, but a good first act and a stellar finale make the movie completely worthwhile.
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